November 19, 2009
by Alexander Mooney, Kate Bolduan and Jason Hanna
Members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will ask questions Thursday about faulty data on the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov Web site.
The site is fixing errors that appeared to show hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were spent in nonexistent congressional districts, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board said Wednesday.
The errors, first reported by ABC News, were seen on Recovery.gov summary pages breaking down how many stimulus dollars were received in each state’s congressional districts.
Arizona’s page, for example, showed the state’s 52nd, 15th and 86th congressional districts received hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. However, no such districts exist in Arizona, which has only eight congressional districts.
A report released Wednesday by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states, four territories and Washington, D.C. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds were shown as being spent — and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created — in 440 false districts, it said.
The districts didn’t exist, but the the money and jobs did, Obama administration officials have said. And the people who are to blame are recipients who apparently didn’t know which congressional district they were in, the officials said.
“We report what the recipients submit to us. Some recipients clearly don’t know what congressional district they live in, so they just throw in a number for their congressional district,” Ed Pound, spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which operates Recovery.gov, said Monday.
In an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” on Tuesday night, Vice President Joe Biden said the errors didn’t indicate unaccounted-for spending but rather were the result of political ignorance.
“There was bad civics classes for those” who reported the data, Biden said. “They had to fill out a form, what district are you in, and there was no such district.”
By Wednesday evening, incorrect districts appeared to have been removed from the states’ summary pages. Arizona’s page, for example, listed only the state’s eight real districts and a category called “unassigned congressional district,” which appeared to contain all the money that had been attached to the nonexistent congressional districts.
Arizona’s “unassigned congressional district” row had $39,577,600, which is roughly the total that the Franklin Center said was previously linked to nonexistent districts.
November 06, 2009
By John McCormack
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the speaker will not allow the final language of the health care to be posted online for 72 hours before bringing the bill to a vote on the House floor, despite her September 24 statement that she was “absolutely” committed to doing so.
House members are still negotiating important issues in the bill–whether it will provide taxpayer-funding for abortions, for example. Pelosi is pushing for a Saturday House vote, and a number of big changes will be introduced, likely less than 24 hours before the vote takes place (if in fact it does). The Rules Committee hasn’t yet released its resolution, or rule, that must be passed before the bill can move from committee to the floor. The rule will set the terms of debate and determine what amendments are in order.
It seems likely that the rule will allow very few, if any, up-or-down votes on amendments on the House floor. Rather, the rule will include a series of amendments that will all be adopted at once if the rule passes.
On September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that she was “absolutely” committed to putting the text of the final House bill online for 72 hours before the House votes:
October 30, 2009
The Raw Story
By Associated Press
Internal investigations into the conduct of several House members have been exposed in an extraordinary, Internet-era breach of security involving the secretive process by which Congress polices lawmaker ethics.
Revelations of the mostly preliminary inquiries by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — also known as the Ethics committee — shook the chamber as lawmakers were immersed in a series of scheduled votes Thursday.
The panel announced that it was probing two California Democrats — Reps. Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson — even as its embarrassed leaders took pains to explain that several other lawmakers also identified in the leaked confidential committee memo may have committed no wrongdoing.
The committee said it was investigating whether Waters used her influence to help a bank in which her husband owned stock, and whether the couple benefited as a result. Separately, the panel is looking into whether Richardson failed to disclose required information on her financial disclosure forms and received special treatment from a lender.
In the midst of a busy legislative day, ethics chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., went to the House floor to announce that a confidential weekly report of the committee from July had leaked out in a case of “cyber-hacking.”
A committee statement said that its security was breached through “peer to peer file sharing software” by a junior employee who was working from home. The staff member was fired.
The July report contains a summary of the committee’s work at the time, but Lofgren said no inferences should be made about anyone whose name is mentioned.